Becoming a successful actor requires a few important ingredients: talent, lots of practice, and a dash of luck. Of course, success doesn’t necessarily mean rich and famous; in fact, Salary.com lists the average salary for the profession at less than $58,000 a year. The odds of becoming famous from acting are slim, but you may be able to make a living in a community theater if you don’t have the good fortune to end up starring in a hit TV show.
Earning enough to live on as an actor is no easy task, but if you’re willing to put the work in and follow these steps, you might just achieve your dream, becoming the next Damon Wayans Jr., or at least be able to pay the bills.
Take Theater in School
The earlier you get started in acting, the better. Many actors started out in high school plays or even elementary school plays. Drama and theater classes will introduce you to different methods of acting, performing on stage, various approaches to characters, and more. You’ll develop your skills and experience, which is critical when it comes to being prepared for the countless auditions that you’ll endure. If you missed out in high school, consider community classes or even a college or university program.
Work On Improving Other Skills
In addition to taking theater and improving your memory skills, try to develop other skills as well. The more you have, the more marketable you’ll be as an actor. Think dancing, singing, choreography, or even combat classes so that you can fight convincingly without getting injured. The more versatile you are, the more likely you are to land those coveted roles.
Practice in a Community Theater
The more practice on the stage you have, the better. Search your local theaters for audition opportunities and go for that role. If you’re cast, you’ll not only get the chance to hone your craft, but it provides a networking opportunity to meet others in the business. Consider working a role backstage if you aren’t chosen for the part, as any drama experience will teach you something you didn’t know while bringing opportunities to meet like-minded people.
In the beginning, you’ll need to self-promote like crazy. Set up a personal website, pages on Facebook, Twitter, and post videos of your performances on YouTube. Think of it as a sales and marketing position – the product is you. There are also apps where you can showcase your talents where others who need them may hire you, like Special Guest. You can also try to find an agent who is accepting submission materials, although they’ll be taking a cut of what you earn, and you’ll need to send them your professional headshot and a well-rounded acting resume.
Getting headshots is a must either way – you’ll want a professional photographer to take your photos to ensure they’re top-notch, keeping them updated at least every couple of years.
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Learn Monologues, Then Audition, Audition, Audition
To audition, you’ll need to learn one- to two-minute monologues and practice delivering them in your own style. They’re frequently used to cast actors in plays, TV shows, and movies, allowing you to showcase your talents in a minimal amount of time. Once you do, audition as often as you can, showing up on time, knowing the material well and looking your best, always speaking with confidence.